More federal public servants have been told their jobs will disappear, as speculation mounts as to how much pain will be inflicted on the bureaucracy in the budget on May 14.
Departmental heads are anxious to know if the government will keep its word to reduce the so-called efficiency dividend after Treasurer Wayne Swan warned government revenue had been hit by a ''sledgehammer''.
Another federal government department revealed on Wednesday it was searching for at least 100 staff to volunteer for redundancies.
Staff at the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy were called to meetings to discuss the offer.
It is understood the department is winding down at least three programs, including the change to digital television.
The federal government has announced that all free-to-air television broadcasters will complete the switch from analog transmission to digital-only transmission by the end of this year.
An email sent to staff by departmental secretary Drew Clarke acknowledges that ''situations like this can be unsettling''.
The department's management is offering voluntary redundancies across the agency to help manage the wind-down and possibly avoid the need for involuntary redundancies further down the track.
The Community and Public Sector Union is seeking more details about the process from management but broadly supports this approach.
But with the end of the financial year looming, there is concern within the public service at the prospect of more departments having to shed jobs.
When the efficiency dividend was increased at the beginning of this financial year, some departments acted quickly to reduce costs and, in some cases, to offer redundancies.
But the Department of Finance and Deregulation only recently announced it was preparing to cut jobs after failing to make the savings imposed by the federal government.
A memo sent to staff by the secretary, David Tune, calls for volunteers to take redundancy before the new financial year.
The irony of the tougher demands for across-the-board savings originally being made by the department's minister was not lost on staff.
The revelation follows CSIRO's shock announcement that it is preparing to cut up to 100 jobs.
The research agency had to cut spending by 2.5 per cent, chief executive Megan Clark told staff last week.
The increased demand for government departments and agencies to make savings was announced by Finance Minister Penny Wong in November 2011.
She said at the time the efficiency dividend was being increased from
1.5 per cent to 4 per cent as a ''one-off'' for the 2012-13 financial year.
The slump in government revenue has sparked concern the demand to cut costs will not fall to the promised 1.5 per cent.
Mr Swan has already dumped Labor's promise to return the budget to surplus this financial year and said on Sunday the budget was being delivered in "very challenging circumstances".
But he said Labor's focus was on protecting jobs and supporting growth, and it would be a "tragic mistake" to make savage cuts to programs to return the budget to surplus earlier.
CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said the union would be working closely with the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to ensure those who wanted to remain in the public service had every opportunity to do so.
"We will also be seeking assurances about workloads issues for staff during the transition period,'' she said.
"Everyone understands that these projects were for a finite period, but we are urging management to do everything they can to hang on to experienced staff who want to stay so their skills can be used in new areas.''
The Coalition is promising to reduce the public service by 12,000 through natural attrition if it wins the September election.
A report by Deloitte Access Economics said the ACT economy risked stalling next financial year under the strain of federal government cutbacks. It said early indications were ''the axe will be swung after the federal election'' and ''likely harder this time''.